Birder's Guide

MAR 2017

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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84 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2017 Birding Oregon's Big Country system. It's also among the largest refug- es, covering 188,000 acres. The Silvies and Blitzen rivers flow into the closed Harney Basin from the north and south, feeding a verdant wetland network at the heart of the refuge. Arid sagebrush steppe and upland flood basalt forma- tions surround this oasis. Hundreds of thousands of migrating and breeding waterfowl and marsh birds use these wetlands; Malheur's freshwater marshes are among of the continent's most pro- ductive. Roughly 130 bird species nest on the refuge. It's easy to get seduced by the allure of the refuge proper, but in doing so, one risks driving past some of the best bird- ing in Harney County. Hotchkiss Lane just outside Burns is a great place to start exploring the birds of the Harney Basin. To reach Hotchkiss Lane, turn east off of U.S. Highway 20 onto Lottery Lane in Hines (near the U.S. Forest Service office) and then turn left, continuing east on Hotchkiss Lane towards Oregon Highway 205. Plan to spend up to an hour along the 2.8-mile stretch between Lottery Lane and Highway 205, as it is rife with avian distractions. From March into June, mountain run- off floods the fields along Hotchkiss. During March and April, this area is carpeted with white geese. Ross's Geese far outnumber Snows after the first of April. Flocks of Greater White-fronted Geese, newly arrived Sandhill Cranes, and wintering raptors are also easy to find. Around mid-April, the first waves of northbound Long-billed Curlews arrive. Before the onset of nesting activities, loose groups of 50–100 curlews may be seen in a single field. During May and June, a loop through Hotchkiss Lane affords intimate encounters with Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Long-billed Curlews, Willets, Cinnamon Teal, Wilson's Phalaropes, Black-necked Stilts, American Avocets, Wilson's Snipe, and Sandhill Cranes, plus several other species of waterfowl. Four- way flashers will get a workout, with ev - ery third fence post presenting another photo opportunity. Though traffic is light, local ranch- Map © Rad Smith

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